Encarnacion, Naylor, Holmberg, Acker


* Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion says his team is good enough to win … now is the time to show it. …..

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Letters of Intent

By Bob Elliott

DUNEDIN, Fla. _ Are the Blue Jays good enough to win this season?

“Yes,” said Edwin Encarnacion, “but we have to do it on the field.

“We can’t sit around the clubhouse and say ‘we’ve got a pretty good team this year.’ Again. We have to go out, do it on the field: pitch well and hit.”

That’s a basic see-ball, hit-ball approach, straight from the teachings of Sam McDowell, the former Jays mental health coach in the 1980s.

There is truth to what Encarnacion says.

Pitch well.


Plus stay healthy.

The Blue Jays have to win this year the final year of president Paul Beeston’s reign.

If not?

Well, then the Jays could be looking for a new general manager to replace general manager Alex Anthopoulos in the final year of his contract and manager John Gibbons, who has a contract for 2016.

If you are a Blue Jays fan do you root for Encarnacion and the Jays to do well?

Or hope that Rogers Communications deputy chairman Edward Rogers and sports consultant pal Roger Rai take over the search.

After all, the duo now has experience hiring new employees after their three month search for a new president went so smoothly.

O Dawg talk:Orlando Hudson on new Jays catcher Russell Martin: “He can shut down a running game, hit for power and likes to have fun, but he’s about business too. He’s not up tight, he’s not afraid to tell a pitcher ‘hey, you missed your spot.’”

Hudson and Martin were teammates with the 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers, who swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round, but dropped the National League Championship Series to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.

“He’ll be a spark plug, he can hit second or third and nothing bothers him,” Hudson said. “Day game after a night game? No problem for Russell.

“He’s like Ivan Rodriguez in his prime.”

Draft watch: The Canadian Junior National Team has spent a week in Florida with a couple more days (of games and evaluation) remaining heading into the June draft.

Calgary right-hander Mike Soroka has improved his stock the most. He pitched two innings against the Blue Jays Sunday allowed one earned run and Wednesday worked three innings allowing an unearned run against Atlanta Braves minor leaguers. He drew a crowd of 57 scouts for his second start.

Mississauga first baseman Josh Naylor suffered a hamstring strain stretching for a ball on Tuesday. He likely won’t play the rest of the trip, but will be fine for next month.

Still at it:Dennis Holmbergwas a Blue Jays coach in 1994-95. That’s it, that’s all … at the big league level.

Yet, few have put their finger prints on the organization as much as Holmberg,

Holmberg managed in the Milwaukee Brewers system for one year (1977) and was interviewed by Jays’ then-GM Pat Gillick in Atlanta. Holmberg was sent to Medicine Hat, to guide the Jays Rookie-class team in 1979.

And he has been continuously employed by the Jays ever since: managing class-A Kinston, class-A Florence, class-A Dunedin, class-A Auburn nine seasons — long enough that they named a street after him — The Hat and he enters his fifth year at rookie-class Bluefield.

Holmberg, who also coached, is part of this year’s class inducted into the Chattahoochee Valley Hall of Fame in Columbus, Ga.

Among those players he coached: Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Robbie Alomar, plus Roy Halladay, Carlos Delgado, Shawn Green, Cecil Fielder, Fred McGriff, Jeff Kent and Mike Timlin.

In all, no less than 275 major leaguers, according to historian Charlie Wride.

Minor-league instructor Omar Malave and Holmberg have been with the organization the longest of uniformed personnel.

His son, Kenny Holmberg played four years in the Brewers system and manages the Texas Rangers rookie-class Arizona League entry.

Holmberg sports 1992-93 World Series rings and has managed 2,666 games (1,383-1281, .519) since 1979.

Ack attack:Avery Acker of the SMU Mustangs earned AVCA All-America Honorable Mention for the second time in her volleyball career.

The daughter of former Blue Jays reliever Jim Acker, had 1,413 assists, third most in a season at SMU, and 11.68 assists per set, the most since 2004. The junior setter, who was a former conference setter of the year, led with 26 double-doubles, finishing with 403 digs. She also had 64 kills and 24 service aces.

Acker recorded a career-high 62 assists in a five-set win against New Mexico.

Her father pitched 10 years in the majors, seven with the Jays (1983-86, 1989-91) with a 26-22 record, a 4.04 ERA and 14 saves.

Scott Harrigan
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